- Westar Energy has filed for a 7.9% rate increase with the Kansas Corporation Commission, the Hutchinson News reports.
- The proposal for a rate increase reflects the costs of mandated environmental upgrades to comply with clean air regulations, life-extension improvements to Wolf Creek Nuclear Generating Station and investments to protect the grid against power outages, according to the utility.
- The $152 million rate hike includes three different rate plans for residential customers. If approved, the rate plans would shift a greater percentage of Westar’s costs to fixed monthly fees, which better reflect the utility’s cost to serve customers.
Westar’s filing has three primary components: first, to recover costs of the clean air retrofits to its La Cygne Energy Center and costs related to improving Wolf Creek; second, to seek approval for a five-year program to strengthen the grid against storms and outages; and third, to request authority from the KCC to offer residential customers three new rate plans.
The part of Westar’s filing that will likely draw the most attention is the utility’s proposal to increase fixed charges, which has been the subject of contentious debate among utilities and solar advocates. Under two of the proposed rate plans, the monthly fixed charge will go from $12 to $15 in the first year, rising all the way to $27 by the fourth year.
“Today our customers have only one rate plan,” said Mark Ruelle, Westar Energy president and CEO. “We are asking for permission to offer new pricing plans that give customers choice in how they budget for and use electricity.”
One of the rate plans is designed specifically to reduce the volatility associated with high summer bills as air conditioners keep customers comfortable on hot days. Another rewards customers who spread out their electricity demand instead of using much at once.
The utility expects the rate case to take about eight months, with a decision anticipated later this year.